Revenue generated by legal activities in the UK increased six per cent year-on-year in 2018 to hit £35.5bn, according to a report published today.
The report by lobby group TheCityUK said the output of legal services in terms of gross value added (GVA) was £26.8bn, or 1.5 per cent of total UK GVA in 2017
Exports from UK solicitors firms were estimated at £7.5bn in 2018, with the sector’s trade surplus increasing to a record £6.5bn.
The UK’s top 100 law firms netted over £26bn in revenue in 2018-19.
The report said that the prestige of English common law and the strength of the judicial institutions that underpin it should allow it to continue helping to sustain the UK’s position as a leading financial centre.
“The sector and the UK jurisdictions will remain a vital national asset and an essential component of the broader financial and related professional services ecosystem as the UK charts a new economic course beyond Brexit,” the report said.
DLA Piper’s joint managing director for UK and Europe Sandra Wallace said: “The legal sector is pretty robust, as long as we stay attuned to the market we are in and and stay ahead of challenges like Brexit, the legal sector can weather those headwinds.”
The report also highlighted the UK’s growing position as a hub for the burgeoning legal technology sector.
It said the UK had “become a global hub for Lawtech” and said investment in UK legal technology has increased almost threefold over the past year with startups receiving £61m in 2018 compared to £22.2m in 2017.
Wallace said client demand was driving investment in technology and alternative delivery models.
“Our clients are demanding it,” she said. “They are expecting us to look at new ways of delivering our services.
“If you take the financial services sector, most banks will say they are tech companies now, there is no way we can ignore that.
“Clients expect judgement and sound legal services but they want us to work in different ways and come to them with proposals as to how we can do that.”
CityUK chief executive Miles Celic said: “While this report demonstrates that the UK remains the jurisdiction of choice for international legal services and dispute resolution, there is little room for complacency.
“The UK-based legal services industry remains a crucial national asset and one that will continue to provide the foundation for the country’s future economic success.”